TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — It was just another day on his drive home from work, and Randy Anger dropped down Dollar Hill and took in the sweeping view of the lake.
“It just came to me,” Randy said.
“’Home’ just kinda popped in my head. I went home frantically and drew it up and sketched it out.”
From Randy’s epiphany on his drive home, Tahoe Basics’ design of the outline of California with the shape of Lake Tahoe standing as the “O” in “HOME” was created.
Tahoe Basics is Randy and his wife Tracy Voelker’s merchandise, design and apparel company operated out of Carnelian Bay.
Their merchandise can be found in 20 stores along the lake as well as at Truckee Thursdays throughout the summer.
Tahoe Basics began as “Keep Tahoe Merry” napkins, a simple logo of the lake wearing a Santa hat.
The business’s designs have grown to include “Keep Tahoe Bearable” and a patriotic design with the outline of the Lake Tahoe filled in with the American flag.
“We try to give back,” Randy said. “We’ve actually donated more than we have made.”
Ten percent of all proceeds of “Keep Tahoe Bearable” T-shirts go to the BEAR League and 20 percent of the proceeds from the pink Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirt go to the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in Truckee.
Tahoe Basics takes up most of the couple’s free time. During the week Tracy works in real estate and Randy works as a personal chef.
“We find the time,” Tracy said. “We make Tahoe Basics work as a side business.” Randy said they work together to come up with ideas but “nothing goes easily” and the husband and wife tend to “overthink stuff.”
The couple met while Randy was a bartender at Pete ‘n Peter’s in Tahoe City.
They look at each other and laugh when asked how long they’ve been married, unable to recall, exactly, their anniversary.
“They work really well as a team,” said graphic designer Allison Crookston. Allison worked on the “HOME” design with Randy and Tracy to bring their vision to a reality. “They have a good combination of vision and then practicality. A lot of people have vision and ideas for things but there is legwork to put in. [Randy and Tracy] have created a lot of cool products as a result.”
The “HOME” design of Tahoe Basics is sold on beer mugs and pint glasses, napkins, T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts and stickers.
“It works because it’s original and it’s something that nobody has ever thought of before,” said Natalia Roberts, an employee at Tahoe Dave’s where Tahoe Basics merchandise is sold.
“People like that the California and the shape of the lake are incorporated; it’s something locals and visitors can be interested in,” she said.
Natalia said Randy “thought of it at the perfect time” as the store has been reordering “HOME” T-shirts and tank tops throughout the summer.
“It’s been really cool watching people take to our design,” Randy said.
LONG DISTANCE RUNNERS
Due to their commitment to Tahoe Basics, Tracy and Randy were unable to run one of their favorite races this summer.
“We were depressed about it,” Randy said. “It’s like a punch in the gut, you should be out there with a smile on your face.”
Long distance running is the hobby Randy has adopted in the last few years. The time he and Tracy spend on the trail is time to think of new ideas for the kitchen as a chef and also for Tahoe Basics’s designs.
“I do all my good, healthy thinking when I’m out there sweating on the trail,” Randy said. Trail running is a habit Randy used to replace past ones.
The former bartender and nightclub owner said there was a direct connection between getting sober and becoming a personal chef.
These days Randy “doesn’t lose a day.”
“When you get into your 40s your days matter,” he said. “I haven’t lost a day in eight or nine years.”
Whether its running or thinking up new designs, cooking for a group of friends for Sunday football games or giving back to their community, Tracy and Randy have their hands in many things and enjoy staying busy.
“When you do something you really, really like it’s infectious,” Randy said.
Tracy and Randy can be found at their Tahoe Basics booth at Truckee Thursdays through Aug. 29. You can also order merchandise from their website at www.tahoebasics.com.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at email@example.com.
“It’s been really cool watching people take to our design.”